Thursday, March 05, 2009
Beyond "Submit to the Authorities" part 2
Dear Courteous Reader,
No matter what is happening in your life, whether pleasant or unpleasant, easy or difficult, I pray that your hope is not in your circumstances, but in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Bible talks of Christian citizenship in several passages, but the central one is Romans chapter 13, so let's work on that for a bit. How about just one concept for now?
The apostle gives this doctrine to those believers who had the wrong idea that God's people do not have to submit to earthly government. In the case of Jewish believers, perhaps some of them claimed their special status as God's nation, and so had the same sentiment reflected in the question asked of Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17) In the case of gentile believers, perhaps a misapplication of the glorious truth that Jesus is the King of kings led them to reject all human government. Certainly some unruly professors were acting disrespectful toward officials (2 Peter 2:10). But the fact that both Paul and Peter commanded submission to government in their letters indicates that some of the Christians of their day held that they did not have to submit to kings and to lower levels of governors.
In answer to this wrong idea, the apostles command that believers be in submission to the governing authorities.
This is tender, easy stuff, I know, so let me give you something tougher to chew.
This doctrine was given to correct those believers who wrongly thought that they did not have to submit to the government, to bring them over to the truth that they did have to submit to the government.
It was NOT given to those believers who were already cheerfully submitting to the government, to help them know what to do as citizens of a republic when dealing with a usurping, despotic, and tyrannical government.
To put it another way,
Paul IS saying, “Those of you who are not submitting to the government must begin to submit.”
Paul is NOT saying, “Those of you who are faithful citizens of a republic, whose laws are being violated by a tyrant, must do nothing but submit to the tyrant's violence.”
I invite you to chew on that, and I hope it doesn't give you indigestion!
Love in Christ,
Second, in the research I found on this chapter, a commentary mentioned there was an indirect tax that the Roman Christians refused to pay. They were paying the direct tax. A Roman historian writes that there was a tax rebellion in the mid 50's AD due to the unjust taxes pressed upon the citizens of Rome.
The thesis is that Paul is writing to the Christians there responding to this rebellion and their attitude towards authority.
Thank you for sharing this!!
God Bless, Brian
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